Lauro Vasquez's interview "Birthing Genoveva: a Conversation with Barbara Brinson Curiel, on the Letras Latinas blog raises questions about women and creativity.
Daniel Olivas's profile for La Bloga: Spotlight on Barbara Brinson Curiel.
Interview by Nate Worrell for The Competitive Writer on winning the Levine Prize.
Video of 2013 poetry reading at Humboldt State University.
Diego Baez's review for Booklist.
Review by Emmy Pérez, University of Texas, Pan American:
"I finally read "Mexican Jenny: and Other Poems" by Barbara Curiel,
fellow CantoMundista (2010-2012). Her book was selected by Cornelius
Eady for the 2012 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. I love this book!
Moving, wise, at times humorous, and beautiful.
When I read
the last poem "Little Red" of the first section of the book I had a
visceral reaction to the whole first section that moved me the way that
nothing except excellent art can.
In the second section of
the book, the setting for the long poem "Mexican Jenny" seemed to put
me, at first, on the set of one of my favorite films as a young adult
McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Curiel's narrative (a mixture of fact and
fiction made into the emotional truth of this kind of poetry), however,
is different, more realistic, deeper, resonates: "It was more important
to bring back / a prostitute who'd killed her pimp, / a wife who'd
killed her husband." We know that the pimp was her husband. My thoughts
immediately turned to the women prison inmates I once taught and the
complex reasons for their incarceration. I also think in broader terms
such as the difficulties faced by many women immigrants and women of all
I chuckled a lot in the third section of the book
(especially the poem "Color Snapshots," but it's the kind of humor that
comes with an acknowledgement of "shared" experiences that lasts well
beyond closing the book.
The last poem of the book I want to type out completely, but here's a bit:
"We were so young / our womanhood / glowed green and as hard / as the
corn growing all around us." And a little more: "In the afterglow / we
were bright stalks / tender as hands / in darkness." In reading this
final image, I am reminded of the long title poem's "Men's quick fingers
are dangerous / as lit dynamite."
But in the end, it's the
friendship of women looking back on young adulthood in the poem, and in
other poems the friendship of daughters/children, memories of abuela
blessing the pots, mom making magic menudo… all of these things seem to
bring order to an otherwise disordered world where young working class
fathers work "packing and unpacking the sides / of beef" to provide for
families and some are the "reluctant husband(s)" of teen moms, or
working hard to make money for things that they don't necessarily
believe in: "sea whaling" for "Del Monte's cat food" or "sperm whale oil
/ for nuclear reactors."
This is all I have time to write
(like a superrough first draft of a book review), but I wanted to share
it anyhow. This book is on my reading list for spring 2015 Chican@
Poetry & Poetics grad course and other poetry courses, including
courses with Women & Gender Studies as a focus.